Above: Sen. Steve Lathrop enjoys spending time with his grandchildren, including grandson Wyatt.
While the other members of the 2019 freshman class of state senators were learning the basics at new member orientation, Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop was becoming reacquainted with the building where he spent eight years serving the people of District 12.
He becomes only the second person to return to service following the adoption of term limits in 2000. Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers returned in 2013.
Lathrop first entered the Legislature as part of the initial class of senators sworn in following the implementation of term limits in 2006. He credits his development as a state senator to the mentorship of the more senior members.
“Those senators taught the younger people, mentored us. They taught us the importance of protecting the institution from partisanship,” he said. “They taught us the idea that no one bill is more important than the institution and that no one constituency is more important than the institution.”
After serving eight years, Lathrop left the Legislature in 2015—a result of term limits. After sitting out the required four years, his appreciation of the institution and public service ultimately set him on the path back to Lincoln.
“I like being involved in public service at the level of creating policy,” he said. “I like the challenge of developing policy, getting people on board, finding middle ground and solving problems at the state level.”
As chairperson of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, Lathrop relies heavily on his almost 40 years of experience as a practicing attorney and law firm partner.
“I love being a lawyer. I really do,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to help people in difficult situations.”
Lathrop admits that balancing his public service with personal and family commitments is easier the second time around. When he first came to the Legislature in 2007, he still had daughters in elementary and high school.
He returned to the Legislature as a grandfather with an empty nest at home.
“When I see people that are doing this with young kids at home, I marvel at the coordination that it must take for that to happen,” Lathrop said.
Like many senators, free time is something of an abstract concept to Lathrop now that he’s reentered public service. He’s not overly concerned with the potential decline of his golf game, however.
“I like to golf and I have friends who are, let’s say, at the same skill level as me,” he joked.